In election years, political debates are not just limited to the candidates. Debates often arise within homeowner associations over restrictions on signage that may limit an owner's ability to place signs within the community.
An HOA can prohibit signs of any kind, including political signs, in the common area. The sign policy should include:
Unauthorized signs posted on the common areas are subject to immediate removal without notice
Removed signs will be stored for 30 days, prior to permanent disposal of the sign
Reasonable efforts will be made to notify the sign owner concerning its removal and where it may be retrieved.
Removal of an unauthorized sign is a separate remedy from imposing a fine for posting a sign in the common areas
Fine schedule for posting unauthorized signs
It's not uncommon for owners to complain that the HOA is infringing on their free speech rights. However, since homeowner associations are private entities, they may impose more stringent regulations than those found in public forums. If the HOA wants to control the type and kind of sign on the property, it's important to have a clear policy that includes:
ype of allowable signs (For Sale, For Rent, Garage Sale)
Size limit (no bigger than 18" x 24")
Number of signs allowed per home/unit
How long the sign can be posted prior to and after the election like, "Signs may be posted 60 days prior to an election and must be removed within 7 days after the election."
Location of signs like, "Signs may only be placed in a window or may be allowed in the front yard of a lot, or signs must be setback a certain distance from the street or the lot line."
Sign Material (like, hardboard on metal post)
Safety considerations (for example, signs cannot block the view of drivers approaching an intersection)
Consequences for violating the rule (fines, removal of sign, etc)
Curb appeal is a major consideration in market value and communities festooned with signs look cluttered and shabby. Drawing the line on signs is a reasonable course of action for homeowner associations. Line out a good policy on signs today.
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